1977 New York Mets season

1977 New York Mets season

The 1977 New York Mets season was the 16th regular season for the Mets, who played home games at Shea Stadium. Initially led by manager Joe Frazier followed by Joe Torre, the team finished in last place for the first time since 1967, and for the first time since divisional play was introduced in 1969.


Regular season

The 1977 Mets had some promising new players in outfielder Lee Mazzilli and catcher John Stearns, but there wasn't enough sock in the lineup. the once powerful pitching staff had also taken on a leaner look. By midseason, ace Tom Seaver had been traded, Jerry Koosman was 8-20 and Jon Matlack (who would be traded in December) was 7-15.

Managerial change

1977 got off to a bad start for Joe Frazier's Mets. On May 30, after being swept in a doubleheader by the Montreal Expos, the Mets' record fell to 15-30, and Frazier was fired as manager of the Mets. Mets first baseman Joe Torre assumed the role of player-manager, leading his team to a 49-68 record the remainder of the way. The team finished 37 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East, narrowly avoiding a 100-loss season (64-98).

Torre was the club's sixth manager and in certain respects his appointment reestablished the New York connection of Mets managers. Although he had spent most of his career with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals, Torre had grown up and played his first baseball in Brooklyn. When the thirty-six-year-old Torre retired as a player that June, he left behind a .297 lifetime batting average for his eighteen years in the major leagues, including an MVP season in 1971 when he led the league with a .363 batting average. Torre was an able manager, with a veteran's incisive insights into the game and the ability to handle and motivate players. But in this case, a last-place team was a last-place team no matter how able the manager.

"Saturday Night Massacre"

Seaver was at odds with Met chairman M. Donald Grant all season over money. It came to a head two weeks after Torre took over as manager on June 15, when Grant traded Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman. Dave Kingman was also traded to the San Diego Padres for minor league pitcher Paul Siebert and Bobby Valentine. Somewhat more quietly that day, they also acquired Joel Youngblood from the St. Louis Cardinals for Mike Phillips. To make room for Youngblood on the Mets' active roster, Torre retired as a player.[2]

From a public-relations perspective, the Seaver and Kingman trades were a disaster. Seaver especially was a hard hit to the fan base. As a member of the 1969 World Champions, he was a symbol of past glory -- one who was still a highly-effective pitcher -- and instilled pride in the fans. Whatever else they might not have had, they still had as their very own the man generally acclaimed as baseball's premier pitcher. No matter how abrasive the relationship between Seaver and his employers had become, dealing him away was a serious miscalculation, and Shea Stadium became known as "Grant's Tomb" in the New York sports pages.

Grant did acquire some good, young talent for Seaver; Flynn was a slick fielding second baseman who won the NL Gold Glove award in 1980, Zachry was co-winner of the NL Rookie of the Year award with Butch Metzger the previous season (coincidentally, they would be teammates on the Mets in 1978), and Henderson would be narrowly eclipsed by the Montreal Expos' Andre Dawson for the award in 1977.

The rationale for the Kingman trade was that he would become a free agent at the end of the season, and the club would lose him anyway. But coming on top of the Seaver trade, aligned with the fact that the team got very little in return for their big buster, the Kingman trade only added to the growing disenchantment at Shea Stadium, and June 15, 1977 would forever be known to Mets fans as the "Saturday Night Massacre."

Season highlights

On July 13, the Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs 2-1 with one out in the sixth inning when the lights at Shea went out as New York City is stricken with a blackout that would last two days. The game was resumed on September 16, with the Cubs winning 5-2. On July 15, when the lights finally went on in New York, the Mets split a double header with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On August 21 Tom Seaver took the mound against the New York Mets for the first time in his career. His Cincinnati Reds defeated the Mets 5-1.

Season standings

NL East W L Pct. GB
Philadelphia Phillies 101 61 .623 --
Pittsburgh Pirates 96 66 .593 5
St. Louis Cardinals 83 79 .512 18
Chicago Cubs 81 81 .500 20
Montreal Expos 75 87 .463 26
New York Mets 64 98 .395 37

Notable transactions


1977 New York Mets
Pitchers Catchers


Outfielders Manager


Player stats


Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
LF Henderson, SteveSteve Henderson 99 350 104 .297 12 65

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Flynn, DougDoug Flynn 90 282 54 .191 0 14
Valentine, BobbyBobby Valentine 42 83 11 .133 1 3
Foster, LeoLeo Foster 36 75 17 .227 0 6
Torre, JoeJoe Torre 26 51 9 .176 1 9
Norman, DanDan Norman 7 16 4 .250 0 0


Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Koosman, JerryJerry Koosman 32 226.2 8 20 3.49 192
Espinosa, NinoNino Espinosa 32 200 10 13 3.42 105
Zachry, PatPat Zachry 19 119.2 7 6 3.76 63
Seaver, TomTom Seaver 13 96 7 3 3.00 72
Jackson, Roy LeeRoy Lee Jackson 4 24 0 2 6.00 13
Medich, DocDoc Medich 1 7 0 1 3.86 3

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Todd, JacksonJackson Todd 19 71.2 3 6 4.77 39

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
Apodaca, BobBob Apodaca 59 4 8 5 3.43 53
Myrick, BobBob Myrick 44 2 2 2 3.61 49
Baldwin, RickRick Baldwin 40 1 2 1 4.45 23
Siebert, PaulPaul Siebert 25 2 1 0 3.86 20

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Tidewater Tides International League Frank Verdi
AA Jackson Mets Texas League Bob Wellman
A Lynchburg Mets Carolina League Jack Aker
A Wausau Mets Midwest League Tom Egan
Short-Season A Little Falls Mets New York-Penn League Chris Krug



External links

  • The New York Mets, The Official 25th Anniversary Book, Donald Honig, 1986
  • 1977 New York Mets
  • 1977 New York Mets team page at www.baseball-almanac.com